Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Full Disclosure (Part Six)

One of my oldest stories is "The Bright Walk", which is your basic vampire tale, as narrated by the vampire himself. I added a new wrinkle or two to make it my own, and I personally think it's the best story I've written so far...which probably isn't a good thing, but I don't care. It's a damn good story.

It has been rejected five times, including one from just the other day. The first rejection came in October of 2009 from Clarkesworld, which I will not be including since the only difference between that one and any other rejection they've sent me is the name of the story. The next rejection was from Shock Totem, later in the month. This one is as form letter as it gets. They don't mention my name, nor the title of the story. Literally, a form rejection.

"Thank you for your submission to Shock Totem.

Sadly, we regret to inform you that we are declining acceptance at this time. Good luck in placing this submission elsewhere.

The Shock Totem Team"

The next rejection came from the fine folks as Dark Discoveries in February of last year. Sadly, I don't seem to have that rejection in my inbox, so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it. I definitely kept the next rejection, which came in August of 2010 from Weird Tales, probably the most famous of all fantasy fiction mags around, given the heavyweights it has published, most notably HP Lovecraft. This was also the longest it has taken any market to respond to my submissions--a whopping 174 days. And this on the heels of a 114-day wait from Dark Discoveries to reject the very same story!

"I am so sorry I held onto this so long, especially since I'm going to have to pass on it. Not quite what I'm looking for. You are welcome to try me again with something else, but note: closed to all submissions until the first of the year (January 2011).

Thanks for your patience,

Ann VanderMeer
Editor-In Chief
Weird Tales"

I don't know if that rejection was as personal as it appears, considering I have seen something very similar to it--especially that first line--posted by another blogger recently, but it made me feel very good at the time, like I had a real shot at making it. Rejection can do that for you, believe it or not; they can make you feel like a great writer even though they're saying they don't like this particular story.

Because that's all a rejection is: it isn't a condemnation of you as a writer or your talent, but of that story. That's it. Nothing more than that. Good writers write shit sometimes. It happens.

The last rejection (so far) for my baby was at the hands of fledgling market Arcane. The editor there is Nathan Schulmate, the same fella who served as editor of the creepily cool Arkham Tales magazine, which is now on indefinite hiatus (which means dead).

This one hurt, because this story should be right up their alley. I was really hoping to break in here, but I guess I'll have to wait a little bit longer. Anywhere, here's the letter.

"Dear Joseph,

Thanks for submitting your story "The Bright Walk" to Arcane. I'm sorry, but it's not quite what we're looking for. I'd love to give a detailed critique, but I'm the one-man band on the editorial side of Arcane, so I just don't have the time for long replies to submissions. 

Feel free to submit more work to us in the future.

Nathan Shumate
ARCANE: Penny Dreadfuls for the 21st Century"

Don't worry, though. "The Bright Walk" is already sitting in the slushpile of another magazine, looking to finally find its way into your home. And I really believe it will get there.

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